The Ivy Coach Daily

December 1, 2023

2024 Ivy League Rankings: Which School Is Best?

A columned building with green glass windows and Latin inscribed at the top is featured at Harvard University.

For its 2024 edition, US News and World Report dropped five factors that it previously used as criteria to determine a given college’s national ranking — class size, the proportion of a school’s faculty with terminal degrees, alumni giving rate, the proportion of graduates borrowing federal loans, and high school class standing. It also introduced some new factors to its methodology that emphasize graduation rates and earnings for economically disadvantaged students. 

While US News is the oldest and most well-known college rankings program, other programs have grown in prominence in recent years, most notably the college rankings system that The Wall Street Journal launched in 2016. Yet none yet hold a candle to US News in terms of their popular appeal.

US News’ recent change in methodology came  after a number of universities withdrew from providing their data to the organization’s rankings program. In addition to Columbia University as a whole, a number of Ivy League graduate programs stopped participating, as well as a number of non-Ivy League schools. 

In the end, each student will have their own criteria for determining what school is right for them — their interests, their passions, and their needs. US News and other rankings can be a helpful guide and a source of information. But the best way to get to know which college is right for you comes, of course, through a campus visit and serious, thoughtful research.

Ivy League Rankings in 2024

Below is an analysis of US News’ 2024 ranking for each of the eight Ivy League schools followed by Ivy Coach’s own ranking:

Ivy League School2024 US News Ranking Among Ivies Only2024 Ivy Coach Ranking Among Ivies Only
Brown University#5#5 (Tie)
Columbia University#6#4
Cornell University#7#8
Dartmouth College#8#5 Tie
Harvard University#2#1
Princeton University#1#2 (Tie)
University of Pennsylvania#4#5 (Tie)
Yale University#3#2 (Tie)

Brown University

US News upgraded Brown University’s ranking to 9th place nationally for its 2024 edition, up from 13th in 2023. US News’ new ranking for Brown makes it the fifth-highest-ranked Ivy League school. 

Brown officials said in a statement that changes in ranking methodology by US News and other organizations prompted gains in some rankings and declines in others. The university touted that US News awarded it number 3 among national universities for undergraduate teaching, and that it has been number one in “Writing in the Disciplines” for five years in a row. 

Based on our experience, Ivy Coach considers Brown to be the fifth most difficult to get into Ivy League university, tied with Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#5
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#5 (Tie)

Columbia University

Columbia climbed in the US News ranking for its 2024 edition to 12th nationally, up from 18th the prior year. However, the university had been ranked 2nd in the 2022 edition. Columbia, of course, suffered its rankings nosedive between 2022 and 2023 because the university acknowledged that it provided misleading data to US News after a math professor there said that he found discrepancies regarding class size and the percentage of faculty with terminal degrees. Both of those ranking factors were dropped this year.

Columbia’s six-year graduation rate of students who received a Pell Grant climbed slightly to 96%, up from 95% in 2022, while its six-year graduation rate of students who did not receive a Pell Grant fell to 95%, from 97% in 2022. 

Columbia said earlier this year that it will no longer participate in the US News ranking program, and will cease providing information to the organization. 

Ivy Coach considers Columbia to be the fourth most difficult Ivy League university to be accepted by.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#6
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#4

Cornell University

Cornell University rose to the 12th best university nationally in the US News rankings, up from 17th the prior year. It appears that the new rankings methodology — which places greater weight on graduation rates for students who receive need-based Pell grants, as well as other metrics tied to first-generation college students and whether recent graduates were earning more than people who had only completed a high school degree — played a role in the upgrade, according to The Cornell Daily Sun

Ivy Coach considers Cornell to be the easiest Ivy League university to be accepted by, ranking it eighth.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#7
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#8

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College dropped in its US News ranking to 18th, down from 12th the prior year, making it the biggest decliner in the Ivy League. The decline is likely due to the change in ranking methodology, which tends to benefit larger universities that often have a greater population of economically disadvantaged students (Dartmouth is the smallest school in the Ivy League).

Dartmouth is known to have the smallest class size in the Ivy League; US News’ decision to drop class size as a ranking criteria also likely contributed to the school’s decline this year. 

Dartmouth stands at 5th in Ivy Coach’s ranking of the most difficult Ivy League undergraduate institutions to be accepted by, tied with Brown and Penn.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#8
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#5 (Tie)

Harvard University

Harvard University retained its spot at number three nationally on the US News list, unchanged from the year before. It is ranked as number one in the category “Best Value Schools,” whose primary criteria is academic quality relative to the average discount price paid by full-time undergraduates after receiving need-based grants.

That marks an improvement from 3rd place in that category for the 2022 edition.  Harvard’s six-year graduation rate for students who received a Pell Grant improved to 97%, up from 94% in 2022. However, its rank for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” fell to 30th place, down from 13th in 2022. 

Ivy Coach regards Harvard to be the most difficult Ivy League school to get into, believing it to be significantly harder than Yale and Princeton.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#2
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#1

Princeton University

Princeton University was ranked by US News as the number one university nationally, marking the 13th consecutive year that it has topped the list. The university also topped The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse rankings, as well as the Forbes list of America’s top colleges.

Princeton improved slightly to 97% in the six-year graduation rate of students who receive a Pell Grant, up from 96% in 2022.

Ivy Coach regards Princeton to be the second most difficult Ivy League school to be accepted by, behind Harvard and tied with Yale University.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#1
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#2 (Tie)

University of Pennsylvania

Penn rose to number six nationally in US News’ ranking for 2024, having moved up from seventh the year prior. Penn’s School of Engineering rose by three spots from last year, coming in at 19th nationwide, while its Wharton School once again received the top rank for its undergraduate business program.

Penn improved to 13th place in the category “Best Value Schools,” up from 18th in 2022. Its six-year graduation rate of students who received a Pell Grant fell to 93%, from 95% in 2022.

Penn is regarded by Ivy Coach to be the fifth most difficult Ivy League School to get into, tied with Brown and Dartmouth.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#4
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#5 (Tie)

Yale University

Yale came in fifth place overall in US News’ ranking for 2024, down two slots from third place the year prior. Yale’s undergraduate economics program was tied for number one with Harvard and Princeton, according to US News.

Yale’s ranking for best undergraduate engineering programs dipped to 37th place, down from 33rd for the 2022 edition, while its “Writing in the Disciplines” rank came in at 5th place, down from 2nd in 2022. However, Yale improved in “First-Year Experiences” to 11th place, up from 12th in 2022. Yale also improved slightly in the 6-year graduation rate of students who did not receive a Pell Grant, which came in at 99%, up from 98% in 2022. 

Yale Law School pulled out of participating in the US News rankings the year prior, with the dean of the school describing the ranking program as “profoundly flawed.” 

Ivy Coach regards Yale to be the second most difficult Ivy League school to get into, behind Harvard and tied with Princeton.

2024 US News Ranking of Ivy League Schools#3
2024 Ivy Coach Ranking of Ivy League Schools#2 (Tie)

The US News Rankings Remain As Relevant As Ever

Yet, despite Columbia as a whole withdrawing from the rankings and other Ivy League graduate programs saying no more, the US News & World Report rankings remain as relevant today as yesterday — and we at Ivy Coach anticipate they’ll be just as relevant tomorrow. While the Ivy League schools may claim — loudly and repeatedly — to not care about their individual rankings, isn’t it funny when schools like Brown tout when its ranking rises?

And while the US News rankings remain a critical tool in the elite college admissions process — if nothing else than for its popularity — they should be interpreted with six grains of salt. Harvard is more difficult to get into than Princeton. Dartmouth is more difficult to get into than Cornell. And Columbia’s wobbly ranking shouldn’t depend exclusively on the mood and whims of a publication as both the school and publication still try to heal from the black eye of the reporting scandal that undermined their legitimacy.

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